Blog

INDIA’S WILD HEART: TALES FROM THE JUNGLE; A LIMITED EDITION JOURNEY

This exciting new adventure celebrates the outdoors and the freedom to explore it with a deep sense of gratitude and respect for the wilderness we must protect.

We enjoy not just the wilderness and natural heritage of India but explore the fascinating built heritage of this region.

Jungle Book brought to life our first interaction with Mowgli, Shere Khan, Bagheera, Baloo and other lifelike characters running free in the jungles. On this journey, we relive the delight by visiting their abode.

About Ibex Expeditions & Taj Safaris

Ibex Expeditions celebrates 40 years of excellence in bespoke adventure, safari and luxury travel in India.

Taj safaris redefines luxury and environmentally friendly comfort amid nature furnished with greenery! Taj Safari lodges offer an enthralling experience and their philosophy is to maintain sustainability to the highest level with a low footprint in harmony with the local community’s needs.

Nothing beats a personal travel tale and sharing a passion of travelling in wild places. Join us to tell your own story from the heart!

Led by Explorer, Mandip Singh Soin who is the only Indian to receive the Citation of Merit by the Explorers Club, USA for his diverse adventures. Both Mandip and his wife Anita, have explored seven continents and believe firmly in protecting our wilderness. Mandip is the Founder of Ibex Expeditions and the Founder President of the Ecotourism Society of India (the National body for responsible tourism in India).

This journey designed by Ibex Expeditions & Taj Safaris takes us through the Panna National Park with the Pashan Garh lodge set in 200 acres of private wilderness; onto Mahua Kothi lodge set in a 45 acre private forest in the Bandhavgarh National Park in the Vindhya hills and finally, to Banjaar Tola set in a 90 acre sal forest on the banks of the river.

The heart of India’s wild is home to the Bengal tiger, leopard, wild boar, antelope, and more.

When you travel with us on this journey, you support the Worldwide Fund for Nature’s Give back to Nature programme to ensure other species of wildlife are protected till eternity.

Highlights:

  • An experience to enjoy a personally led journey with Mandip & Anita.
  • A luxurious stay at the five-star deluxe landmark hotel, Taj Palace, New Delhi.
  • Exploring three of Central India’s premier wildlife forests.
  • Tracking wildlife including tiger, leopard, wild boar, a variety of antelope and more.
  • Stay at the charming Pashangarh lodge, Mahua Kothi lodge, and Banjaar Tola lodge.
  • Visiting the Kalinjar fort by a short trek.
  • Enjoy a small group tour of 12-16 persons.
  • A give back to nature component towards the Give Back to Nature programme of theWorld-Wide Fund for Nature India.
  • A night safari at Pashangarh, Panna.
  • Jungle Safaris at all parks
  • A nature walk and village visit at Mahua Kothi, Bandhavgarh.
  • A cooking class at Banjaar Tola, Kanha.
  • A visit to a tribal village and to the Kanha Museum of Life and Art in Kanha

ITINERARY
04 – 16 April 2020
13 Days/12 Nights

04 April
Arrival Delhi
You will be received by an Ibex Expeditions representative who will assist you to your Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi.

05 April
Delhi
After breakfast, proceed on a guided tour of Delhi at 0930 hours which includes the city’s world heritage sites.

Step back in time as you drive through the roads of New Delhi and witness some of its historical sites – India Gate, The Presidential Palace and Parliament House. Experience the magnificence of the grand new city that Sir Edwin Lutyens built in the early 1900s.

Humayun’s tomb was commissioned by Emperor Humayun’s wife Hamida Banu Begum in 1562 and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian architect. It was the first garden-tomb of the Indian subcontinent.

Spread over 90 acres, the resplendent Sunder Nursery Gardens is a heritage park complex situated adjacent to the Humayun’s Tomb. Originally known as Azim Bagh, it was built during the Mughal era in the 16th century and comprises of 15 heritage monuments. It has over 300 types of unique trees, making it Delhi’s first arboretum. During the erstwhile British era, the nursery was established to grow experimental plants that gave the complex its name.

06 April
Delhi – Khajuraho by flight. To Panna National Park by road. Monday (55 kms)
After an early breakfast by 0730 hours, you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight to Khajuraho.
Flight: Air India 406: 1015h – 1440h (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)

Pashan Garh is a unique lodge nestled in untamed wilderness in a 200-acre forest. Here you have a unique opportunity of also enjoying a night safari. The habitat restoration initiative that the team has undertaken have resulted in a green cover.

Panna is situated in the Vindhya Hill range and spreads over the Panna and Chhatarpur districts in the northern part of Madhya Pradesh. Panna National Park is the most important protected area in the north-central highlands of India, as it links the eastern and western populations of wild animals through the Vindhya ranges.

Situated just 40 km from the world-famous temples at Khajuraho, Panna National Park is located along the banks of the Ken River. The Park, with its deep ravines, cascading waterfalls and thick teak forests, is predominantly a plateau, with sprawling flatlands punctuated by hills, deep valleys and gorges. The terrain is largely rocky and uneven.

There are mixed dry deciduous forests with short grasses and open woods. Lower altitudes are characterised by taller grasses and closed woodlands. Common bamboo also occurs on hilly slopes and gorges.

Home to the majestic tiger, guests may also see leopard, wolf, hyena, jackal and sloth bear. The reserve is also well known for sightings of nilgai, sambar, chital, wild boar and Indian crocodile.

07 April
Panna National Park
Early morning, you will have a wake-up tea, after which you depart for a jungle safari accompanied by a resident naturalist, with break for picnic breakfast.
Return to lodge. In the afternoon after early lunch, proceed on an excursion to Kalinjar fort which is 60 kms away.

Many decisive battles were fought for the possession of this strategically located fort in ancient, medieval and modern times. The fort is also symbolic of cultural and religious glory. The famous temple here is the Neelkantha, the tallest Kala Bhairava image and a number of other sculptures.

You return to the lodge at the end of the day.

Reminiscent of meeting Fred, Barney and the Flintstones family, you stay in stylish stone cottages huddled atop a hill, facing a waterhole and forest, and await eagerly to see an antelope wandering in the wild and perhaps, seeing the big cat. Inspired from the local dry packed stone houses of the region, the uneven stones add to its charm.

The crocodile is omnipresent greeting you and the interiors are a contemporary mix of chocolate linens, block printed black silks, celadon cottons and cotton lace chandeliers.

This evening you will enjoy a talk by Mandip titled ‘Tales of an Explorer’, an anecdotal, humorous account of 4 decades of living on the edge in the outdoors.

08 April
Panna National Park
After breakfast, drive to Khajuraho town for a guided tour of the temples.
The temples at Khajuraho were built under later Chandela kings between 950 and 1050 AD in a truly inspired burst of creativity. Of the original 85 temples, the 25 surviving are among the finest in India. They are built mostly of fine sandstone from Panna in shades ranging from pink through buff to pale yellow although granite was used.

Some believe, the erotic temple sculptures illustrate Kama Sutra, the sensuality outside the temple contrasting with the serenity within. The name Khajuraho is derived from Khajura-date palm, which grows freely in the area and perhaps, because there were two golden khajura trees on a carved gate here.

Return to the lodge for lunch, followed by an afternoon game drive in your own vehicle ending at sunset. Enjoy a sundowner as you recount tales of the jungle.

09 April
Panna National Park – Bandhavgarh National Park (200 Thursday kms, 4-5 hours)
After breakfast, we proceed to the next wilderness destination at Bandhavgarh.  Enjoy a relaxing and rejuvenating massage at Mahua Kothi Lodge.

This compact park with a core area of 105 sq. kms and a buffer zone of 437 sq km is in the Vindhya hills. It is famous as the place in which the white tiger originated and before becoming a National Park in 1968, it was the game preserve of the Maharajas of Rewa. The management has embarked on a conservation programme and protection form disease, fire, grazing and poaching have all been factors in the recovery of the wildlife area. It is set in rugged hills and marshes that used to be perennial and now support a vast grassland savanna. There are also interesting cave shrines that are scattered around the park.

10 April
Bandhavgarh National Park
Early this morning, we will head to the park for a game drive accompanied by expert naturalists. We will look for not just the tiger but all species of fauna and flora. We will also stop for a picnic breakfast.

Late afternoon proceed for a guided nature walk. The nature trails offered in the buffer zone of the park, it is a wonderful time to get acquainted by the smaller creatures, be they butterflies, beetles, and a multitude of wildflowers.

11 April
Bandhavgarh National Park
After breakfast, visit a local village and interact with the locals and see their untouched way of life. These villages are on the periphery of the park where farming is practiced in age old methods with simple tools and ingenuity. Tribes like Baiga, Gond and Kol amongst others, live in homes plastered with cow dung. Return to the lodge for lunch followed by an afternoon game drive in search of leopards, tigers and more.

Tonight, we will sit beneath the Mahua tree and have dinner. The tall tree stands at the edge of the grassland and here we enjoy a special dinner adorned by lanterns. This dinner is a unique dining experience with barbecued cuisine.

12 April
Bandhavgarh National Park – Kanha National Park (250 Sunday kms, 5 hours)
After breakfast, we will drive to Kanha National park with a packed lunch. The afternoon is free and later you can enjoy a cooking class by the chef who will unveil simple tips on Indian cooking. This is the country that Kipling wrote so vividly in his Jungle book. The area was famed as a hunter’s paradise but now the valley has been well developed as a national park. Lying in the Maikal hills in the eastern part of the Satpura range, the park has deciduous hardwoods including sal (Shorea robusta) and stands of bamboo, rolling grasslands and meandering streams of the Banjar River.

13 April
Kanha National Park
At dawn, we will leave in special jeeps of Banjar Tola with our naturalists through dense jungles and grasslands laden with mist and a deep orange orb for a sun in the sky. Misty mornings are a common feature in Kanha. Kanha is rich in biodiversity and has an excellent population of tigers and leopards. The Barasingha (Hard ground swamp deer) are the mascots of Kanha and herds can be seen in grasslands as well as in ponds feeding on aquatic plants.

After lunch, visit a nearby tribal village, interacting with the locals and learning about their ancient culture. Gond and Baiga are the two prominent tribes found here. These were a hunter –gatherer, forest dwelling communities that practised a harmonious coexistence with nature. Remnants of that lifestyle can still be glimpsed here, although the younger generations are fast adapting to modern ways.

14 April
Kanha National Park
This morning, we will visit the Kanha Museum of life and art. The museum showcases Gond and Baiga tribal traditional paintings that draw inspiration from forests and wildlife. At 1430 hours, we will return to the park for another drive looking for gaur and jackals.

This evening we have a farewell bush dinner with lanterns and a rustic wooden cart. Some local delicacies like the Baiga chicken will be served. The Baiga dancers in traditional dress move lithely as the compelling drumbeats reverberate.

15 April
Kanha National Park – Jabalpur airport by road. (175 kms, 3 Wednesday hours) – Delhi by flight.
Enjoy the last day at the lodge and then proceed to Jabalpur. Banjaar Tola’s Gaudi-esque tents set you up for the eclectic décor and scrumptious menus. The naturalist here can bring alive the reality of a tiger’s hair to the creation of an ant hill! They have names for butterflies, tree bark, beetles and bees. Steeped in high luxury, exploring this lodge is eternally mysterious as is the lush Sal forest that it inhabits in Central India.

On arrival at Delhi, transfer to Hotel Taj Palace for the night, with evening free.

16 April
Depart Delhi
You will be transferred to the airport based on your final flight details.